DENNIS SIMMONS in Tales of Knotts Island

January 31, 2012. from Cheryl Copper

Dennis Simmons
Judith Haines Simmons

Dennis Simmons was born in 1782, the son of John Simmons and Amy Dawley who married September 4, 1773. He had two brothers--John and Robert, and a sister, Elizabeth. Their paternal grandfather, Robert had a 500 acre farm on Knotts Island (and a distillery in London and property in Philadelphia.) The Simmons are connected to many Princess Anne County and Knott's Island area families. In Robert Simmons' will (October 20, 1784) he names his daughter Mary Bonney (and grandsons Solomon and William Bonney), daughter Elizabeth Bonney, daughter Lydia Balance, Granddaughter Mary Answell (Ansell). Dennis and his siblings appear in orphan dockets mysteriously under the guardianship of Amy White, there may be a connection to a James Phillips in the following years.

On January 13, 1806, Dennis married Judith Haines (Haynes), daughter of Erasmus Haynes and Hattie Smith, of Princess Anne County in Virginia. (The Smiths were said to have been from New Jersey where they owned much property.) Judith was 17 years old when she married Dennis who was called a "gentleman farmer" with his own sailing vessels, hence the informal title: Captain Simmons. They had five daughters and one son: Elizabeth, born October 8, 1811. Then Sarah, Martha Jane, Amy and Eliza. Their son was named Dennis. (The story in the family is that Dennis Jr became a doctor of medicine and married a woman from Philadelphia where he died a few years later. His wife died a few years later. They had no children.)

Dennis and Judith Simmons left Knotts Island for Norfolk County where in 1847 he purchased the old Ivy property which is today known as Algonquin Park. By 1850 he seems to have sold all of his Knotts Island property, and at 67 years of age continued there as a farmer. The property is listed on a Civil War map as D. Simmons.

The eldest daughter Elizabeth and her husband William Callis, a builder in Norfolk.